When asbestos has been identified in certain materials, it is imperative that these materials be disposed of properly and safely. They cannot simply be tossed in the garbage with other refuse. This is because asbestos is toxic and presents a serious risk to people’s health if they are exposed to airborne asbestos fibers or dust.
Because of the threat to human health, asbestos must be handled and disposed of in accordance with strict federal laws set by the Environmental Protection Agency. There are guidelines for who can remove asbestos, how it must be done and where the removed asbestos must be sent for disposal. Failure to comply with these rules can not only get a person in serious trouble, but it can also put other people in danger of developing an asbestos-related illness. Recently, a man was sentenced to prison for unsafe asbestos removal, but it is the residents near the illegally dumped asbestos who may face the most devastating consequences of this negligence.
According to reports, the man was one of at least five people who were involved in illegally dumping construction waste near the Mohawk River. The debris contained asbestos, which meant that it should have been disposed of in accordance with EPA regulations. But instead, the workers decided to try and cut corners by dumping more than 400 truckloads of asbestos materials on a property near the river.
Authorities are very concerned that the river was contaminated by the asbestos and could have a very serious impact on the people who live downstream. People who inhale or ingest asbestos particles can suffer numerous health problems when the fibers get lodged into a person’s lungs, as this can cause mesothelioma or lung cancer.
All of the workers involved in the illegal activity have been sentenced to prison and ordered to pay a total of $1 million to cover the costs of cleaning up the affected areas and restitution. Violating laws to save money during a construction or demolition project is extremely irresponsible, but companies continue to try and get away with it, especially when it comes to asbestos. Victims of asbestos-related diseases have the right to hold these parties accountable for the damages they have experienced as a result of reckless or negligent actions.
Source: Surviving Mesothelioma, “Last Man Sentenced in Asbestos Dumping Scheme,” Oct. 7, 2013